December 17th, 2010
The 1603 Treasury Grant Program lives to see another day. Late last night Congress passed its major tax-cut deal – and with it extended this cash-in-lieu-of-tax-credit (rolls of the tongue doesn’t it?) program for commercial solar and wind energy systems. President Obama signed the bill into law this afternoon, keeping the TGP, which was set to expire this month, in place for another year. » Read the rest of this entry «
July 23rd, 2010
The webinar was a success. Recap can be found here:
Full webinar recording: http://votesolar.org/PACEwebinar_july29.wmv
For PCs: the recording includes audio and PPT slides
For Macs: the recording only includes audio. You can follow along by downloading the presentation slides here (PDF).
Campaign Update: Time is running short on summer, and even shorter before the August congressional recess. We still need to be aggressive in our support of PACE at the National level. The focus turns to the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee. But all members of Congress need to hear from us.
Here is your quick daily digest of news and updates from the national campaign to protect PACE from the actions of the FHFA. If you are new to the issue, here are some resources for you.
We will host an interactive webinar on Thursday, July 29th at 1pm ET/ 10am PT to get into the details of the federal PACE campaign. Join us to help work on how to best address issues raised by the Senate Banking Committee, hear about the current status of PACE Commercial programs, and to hear from Sonoma County on how they kept their program going.
1. Update on Recent Events
The last two weeks have seen a flurry of action across the nation in support of PACE. Here are some of the recent highlights:
- The “PACE Assessment Protection Act” was introduced in both the House and Senate. HR 5766 (Thompson) has attracted over 40 co-sponsors.
- PACE stakeholders have met with dozens of Senators and Representatives from across the country
- The National Association of County Officers issued a resolution supporting PACE and demanding action be taken to safeguard PACE programs.
- Dozens of communities from Florida to New York to California have introduced city council resolutions demanding immediate action be taken to safeguard PACE. For example, Miami Dade County Florida passed their resolution on July 20.
- Thousands of petitions and letters have been sent to Congress in support of PACE. For example, over two thousand Floridians sent letters to their Senator, George LeMieux, asking that he support PACE legislation.
2. Action Request
As we enter the final weeks before Congress adjourns, it is more important than ever to keep up the pressure. Time is short, but we have a real chance to move legislation through Congress if we keep working.
- EVERYONE: KEEP THE PRESSURE ON CONGRESS. Call your Representative and Senator and ask them to support the PACE Assessment Protection Act. Don’t have much time? Sign the petition through Vote Solar.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: Pass a resolution supporting PACE and asking Congress to take action (visit PACENow.org for a sample resolution).
- COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS: Send a letter on your letterhead to your Senators and Members of Congress urging immediate legislation to save PACE.
We have a Senate Bill. Yesterday, the Senate introduced legislation requiring lenders to adopt sound underwriting standards that support PACE financing programs. It is the companion legislation to the House Bill (pdf) introduced last week.
We still have a tough road ahead in Congress. Yesterday’s Senate decision to nix major climate and renewable energy legislation after 18 months of debate serves as a timely reminder of just how hard it can be for strong policy to successfully navigate Congressional waters. And with just a few weeks left before the summer recess, it’s a race against time to send PACE legislation across the finish line. The good news is that PACE is a bi-partisan issue – we have a real opportunity ahead of us to see support from both sides of the aisle move PACE legislation forward.
We need your voice more than ever. Here are two ways you can help . . .
- Contact your representatives in Congress to urge them to pass PACE-protecting legislation. We’ve made it easy here. Have you already taken action? Consider encouraging your friends, family and colleagues across the country to do the same.
- Spread the word via your local newspaper. It’s as easy as writing a letter to the editor. We’ve draft a sample letter below that you can customize and use to send a public message that you care about the issue.
As always please check out: http://pacenow.org/ for support materials and additional information.
Our community and others across the country have a promising new tool for unlocking investment in our local clean energy economy. Called Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE, this innovative municipal finance program allows property owners to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements and to pay for the cost over time through their property taxes. It’s an entirely voluntary program that creates green jobs right here and reduces energy bills for our homes and businesses.
But these promising local programs are under attack from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their regulators at the FHFA. The lending giants, which own the vast majority of American mortgages, recently declared that PACE violates the terms of their mortgages. These actions have shut down PACE programs here and nationwide, throwing a massive wrench in American economic recovery and violating the century-old right of local governments to assess local property taxes for a public purpose.
There are 37,000 similar special assessment districts that are used to finance everything from sewers to sidewalks, yet federal regulators have singled these clean energy assessment districts for their attacks. The regulators and its lenders at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have no right to trample on one hundred years of legal precedent for this type of local government finance. In addition to violating state’s rights, their action impedes one of our nation’s most promising efforts to move toward fossil fuel independence.
As our voices in Congress, Rep. ______ and Senator ______ should stand up for PACE and resolve this dispute with Fannie and Freddie once and for all.
July 31st, 2009
It’s officially go-time for the clean energy component of the American Recovery Act, which passed in February of this year. This week the federal government moved forward on two much-anticipated renewable funding initiatives designed to jump-start a new green economy.
First: On Wednesday, July 29, DOE’s Secretary Steven Chu announced $30 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects and $750 million to support and enhance our aging transmission system. The loan guarantee program itself is not new, in fact it is already seen seven cycles of solicitations. What is new is that this round of solicitations is promised to be a significantly more streamlined and accelerated process. The initial solicitation will focus on “innovative” next-generation solar projects and manufacturing facilities, then moving onto solicitations for solar projects that have already been proven commercially. The exact details on the solicitation process have yet to be released. For more information visit: http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov/.
Second: Just today the U.S. Department of the Treasury posted its online applications for cash grants. You may recall that Congress authorized these cash grants in lieu of the commercial investment tax credit (ITC) for two years- an effort to make the incentive useful in this economy that’s marked by meager appetite for tax credits. Again, the cash grants will be funded through money in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s tax title. The application for the grants can be viewed here: https://treas1603.nrel.gov/.
Looks like project stimulate the green economy is about to start – and I don’t know about you, but we’re ready for it.
June 29th, 2009
On Friday, June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES – HR 2454) by a vote of 219 to 212 (see how your Congress Member voted here). This is the first time that climate change legislation has passed either house of Congress – so this is BIG news.
Solar-Related Provisions in the bill:
(to learn more about each of the provisions click here to see the Solar Energy Industries Association’s summary of the bill):
· National Renewable Energy Standard (RES) of 20 percent by 2020 (however, with the various exemptions this will likely lead to 11.5% renewable by 2020).
· Sets aside a portion of the carbon allowances for states to use to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects (9.5 percent of carbon allowances).
· Provisions to expedite the overhaul of our transmission system to make room for new renewable energy (allows for regional transmission grid planning and federal siting authority)
· Allows the federal government to fund solar installations on public buildings through entering into a 20-year Power Purchase Authority (PPAs).
· Establishes a “Green Bank” (aka the Clean Energy Deployment Administration) to provide seed money to domestic companies developing cutting-edge renewable technologies including solar.
February 16th, 2009
Posted by Annie Carmichael
After such a long drought in federal leadership on renewables, we find ourselves pleasantly surprised by Congress’ newfound love for the sun. Congress just passed an economic recovery package that makes good on Obama’s promise to unleash the economic development engine that is clean energy. Nearly all of the solar provisions on the table made it into the final bill.
The recovery package will immediately spur job creation along each link in the solar supply chain- from PV panel manufacturers to solar hot water system installers. Serious kudos to our hard-working friends at SEIA who traversed the halls of Congress until the 11th hour, and to all of our members who chimed in online to make their voices heard. For more information on the bill check out SEIA’s website.
Friends, quick note- The details of implementation for many of these provisions will be determined in the next few weeks. When we know more about how individuals, companies and states can access these new sources of funding for solar we will post that information on our website.
Solar provisions in the final economic recovery bill:
Renewable Energy Grants: Given the economic downturn, many traditional solar project financiers were left without the tax appetite necessary to put the 30 percent solar tax credit to good use. This provision puts solar finance back on track by offering DOE grants as an alternative to the tax credit. To be eligible for the program, the project must commence construction in 2009 or 2010 and be placed in service by January 1, 2017. Applications must be filed by October 1, 2011.
Repeals Penalty for Municipal Solar Finance Programs: Around the country, cities are implementing innovative finance programs that help residents and businesses go solar without breaking the bank. As the tax code was written, there was some uncertainty as to whether participants in these programs could claim the federal solar tax credit. This provision ensures that businesses and individuals can qualify for the full amount of the solar tax credit, even if projects are financed with local development bonds or other subsidized energy financing.
Loan Guarantee Program: This provision is especially helpful for the development of large-scale solar power plants. It establishes a temporary DOE loan guarantee program for renewable energy and electric power transmission projects. The program is available for any renewable project that commences construction by September 30, 2011.
The program provides $6 billion in renewable funding.
Manufacturing Investment Credit: Everyone wants manufacturing jobs, and this provision will help attract solar manufacturing facilities to the U.S. It provides up to $2.3 billion to fund 30 percent investment tax credit for facilities engaged in the manufacture of advanced energy technologies. Projects must be certified by the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, through competitive bidding.
Remove Limits on Solar Water Heating: This provision gives solar hot water heaters the same treatment of solar panels. It repeals the $2,000 monetary cap, making solar water heating property eligible for the full 30 percent tax credit.
Government Procurement: We are still tracking down details, but there appears to be multi billions of dollar available for the installation of solar on government buildings, military bases and schools.
October 3rd, 2008
Posted by Annie Carmichael
It is finally time to celebrate. Congress has passed a long-term extension of the solar investment tax credit. An 8-year extension of both the commercial solar tax credit and the residential solar tax credit (with removal of the monetary cap), passed the Senate (74-24) and the House (263-171). The President signed the bill into law the same day.
It has been a long road and we want to thank everyone for adding your voice to this campaign; the consistent public pressure saved this credit. We also want to give props to the hard working folks at the Solar Energy Industry Association who walked the halls of Congress day in and day out for two years rallying support for this vital tax credit. Thanks to all of you over 440,000 jobs will be created in the solar field in the next 8 years, and over $232 billion of investment will be pumped into our economy. Now that’s economic stimulus.
A Note on the Bailout Discussion
The solar investment tax credit, and the rest of the clean energy tax incentives, passed as part of the ‘Economic Stabilization’ bill. When we sent out on email on this development on Wednesday, we received dozens of thoughtful, well-articulated responses challenging us for ‘supporting the bail-out package.’
We would like to take a moment to clarify our position on this. Vote Solar doesn’t have a position on the bailout. When the ITC was included in the bailout package that the Senate chose to move, we decided to send out the email because we felt obligated to tell our membership about potential game-changing developments regarding solar so that you could act as your conscience dictated.
Like you, we would have preferred a clean stand-alone renewable energy bill. The reality though is that federal politics is rarely a clean process. The renewable energy tax incentives have been held hostage to a larger political debate all year–with 15 previous votes and no results–and this latest iteration is no exception. This is one of the main reasons why 95% of our efforts are on state-level policies, and we are very much looking forward to continuing our work there to take advantage of the boost that the passage of the ITC provides.
- All the advocacy efforts paid off! -Sept. 9th D.C. Rally
September 29th, 2008
Sigh. And the impasse continues. Since the last solar tax credit renewal update we have had some high and low moments.
First the high: on 9/23, after some serious bi-partisan
maneuverings, the Senate passed H.R. 6049 (including a 8-year
residential and commercial ITC, with a removal of the residential cap)
by a vote of 93 to 2. The Senate warned that this package, in its entirety, was the only package that could pass the Senate. Senator Ensign (R-NV) put it bluntly: “If the House does not pass the [Senate] bill, it’s dead, it’s dead for the year.”
Then, instead of taking up the full Senate
version, the House decided to take the bill apart and debate each issue
in the bill separately (clean energy tax incentives, alternative
minimum tax relief for middle class families, disaster tax relief, and
on and on). This was a low point, a very low point. Because even though
the House approved a stand-alone package of renewable energy tax
incentives extensions by a vote of 257-166 it was obvious that this
stand-alone, fully paid for strategy (tried 5 times now) would die in
While both the Senate and House packages create
and extend various energy incentives, there are key differences. For
example the House plan was fully offset at the insistence of House
Democrats, and the Senate package was only partially paid for as part
of a delicate bipartisan compromise that allowed the bill to advance
after months of stalemate.
Today the House announced that they will adjourn
for a short recess and will come back October 2. We are hopeful that
they will immediately get back to work on this now incredibly
time-sensitive issue. At a press conference today Majority Leader Hoyer
said he will continue to work with Senator Reid to see what can be done
with regard to energy and other tax extenders “even if it’s next year.”
Next year Rep. Hoyer is too late.